Boiled Alive, and Feelin’ It

Well, I’ve got some bad news for those of you who enjoy dining on a little crab or lobster, possibly under the presumption that our little crustacean friends don’t feel pain …when being boiled alive. 

Scientists are going on the record in the journal of Animal Behaviour with their discovery that lobsters and crabs not only suffer pain, but remember it too.

Whether or not crustaceans feel pain has been debated for a long time, while many like to argue that since their nervous system is different from ours, they’re not capable of feeling pain or stress.

However, this research has shown that when hermit crabs are exposed to painful stimulus, i.e. an electric shock, they experience pain, in addition to learning behaviors to avoid painful situations in the future, like ditching their shells in search of new homes.

Since tearing off legs and boiling lobsters and crabs alive are common practices, scientists are now calling for a reevaluation of their treatment and protection.

Robert Elwood, the head researcher for the study said, “There is no protection for these animals (with the possible exception of certain states in Australia) as the presumption is that they cannot experience pain. With vertebrates we are asked to err on the side of caution and I believe this is the approach to take with these crustaceans.”

A second study that will be appearing in the journal Applied Animal Behavior Science also provides evidence that these animals suffer. This study also found that crustaceans react to pain, make decisions to avoid it, and they react positively to pain killers.  

For more information about the lives of these mysterious sea creatures, check out Fishing Hurts

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Valentina R.
Valentina R.about a year ago

Killing lobsters and crabs in such hideously painful ways must be illegal.

Judith Corrigan
Judith Corrigan3 years ago

Don't eat lobster or crab for that reason.

Mea Kat
Mea Kat6 years ago

Didn't mean to vote no....... I misread the read question, besides I've never have had sea food...

Cris S.
Evlin L.7 years ago

Jennifer E.
Jennifer E.7 years ago

When I was 3 years old someone gave me a piece of lobster at a cookout. I remember vividly that it was the worst thing I ever tasted! Never had a bite since and never will. My husband and I don't eat lobster or crab anyway.
I was lacto ovo for 16 years but sadly due to finances and availability I've regressed and occassionally eat some fish now and then. Don't hate me-I do that already. Wish I could go vegan and be done with it.

kerri m.
kerri m.7 years ago

All creatures feel pain and suffering. That is why it is so very, very important for people to go vegan.

Anne Kahil
Anne Kahil7 years ago

'nuf said

Sally D.
Sally D.7 years ago

I never eat lobster, crab, prawns, shark, or any seafood. The thought of the pain these poor lobsters and crabs go through is unbearable. They DO feel pain, and it must be intolerable. Just because they are crustaceans and cannot express their feelings as much as other animals can, does not mean that they feel any less pain. It should be banned. We do not need to eat these marine creatures. They should be left to live out their lives in full. Humans who can do this must be bereft of any feeling for animals, it is so very cruel. All they think about is the profit their restaurants are making when they boil these living creatures alive. I think it is outrageous and should be outlawed, as should all killing and cruelty of ANY living creatures.

Eric G.
Eric Gilmartin7 years ago

Oh, God, this is going to ruin seafood for me. I just won't be able to eat it now, if this is accurate (and I suspect it is).

Valerie Valentine
Valerie V.7 years ago

I wish I was rich I would go to all the markets and buy up all live crabs and lobsters and set them loose, and I'm pretty sure that they would be wiser to the traps.